Lee Daniels Says 'Empire' Cast Has Felt 'Pain, Anger, Sadness & Frustration' Since Jussie Smollett Scandal

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Empire creator Lee Daniels is opening up about the Jussie Smollett "incident" for the first time since the return of the hit Fox show last Wednesday.

Daniels took to Instagram Wednesday afternoon to share a video in which he admits, "These past couple of weeks have been a freakin' roller coaster."

"Me and my cast have experienced pain, anger, sadness and frustration," Daniels continued. "And [we] really don't know how to deal with it, ya know?"

The filmmaker and prolific producer -- who co-created Empire with Danny Strong and remains an executive producer on the series -- never mentioned Smollett by name in his remarks, and coyly danced around the elephant in the room when he stressed that the episodes that have aired over the last two weeks were filmed "prior to the incident," referring to Smollett's allegedly faked attack on Jan. 29 in Chicago, his subsequent arrest and indictment.

Daniels went on to say that the drama surrounding the 36-year-old actor is "not what this show was made for."

"This show was made to bring America together," Daniels shared. "To talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets."

The Instagram post came just a few hours before Wednesday night's episode of Empire aired, during which time Daniels live-tweeted about the show multiple times, notably never mentioning either Smollett or any scenes involving his character, Jamal Lyon.

Daniels conspicuously avoided mentioning both last week as well during his Empire live-tweet session, despite the character being central to many of the premiere's biggest plotlines.

This week's episode actually opened on Smollett's character playing the piano and singing an original song called "Perfect Place" that, much like the song he sang during last week's episode, has some lyrics that seem particularly ironic in the light of the scandal that has enveloped the actor.

The questionable-in-retrospect lyrics include, "All the shine I left behind/Now I'm here, to my surprise," and "Was it worth the sacrifice?/'Cause being here is all a lie," as well as, "Oh, it's a shame, 'cause now I finally/Found a place that's all mine... Another place that's gone."

Additionally, one of Smollett's other scenes in this week's episode -- which felt notably lighter on scenes including the embattled star -- saw Jamal admonishing two singers who work for the Empire record label for getting into a fight on a red carpet and publicly embarrassing the company -- a moment that also felt uniquely ironic as well.

Additionally, the dramatic tease for next week's episode suggested fans might get more clues as to which member of the Lyon family is in the coffin -- which we've seen in flash forwards in earlier episodes and has been a driving mystery throughout the season. However, most fans are pretty confident that it's going to be Jamal who gets killed off, since Smollett has already been removed from the last few episodes of season five.

Smollett recently pleaded not guilty after being indicted on 16 felony counts by a grand jury in Chicago -- for allegedly making false statements to police regarding being the victim of a hate crime. The actor has staunchly denied the allegations.

For more on the ongoing legal battle surrounding Smollett, check out the video below.

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